Halifax Regional Police are asking for the public's help to find three suspects who police say worked together to distract a woman to steal her debit card out of her purse.

Police said a woman shopping at the Wal-Mart in Dartmouth Crossing on the afternoon of Jan. 24 had her debit card stolen from her purse. She noticed her card was missing four days later and reported it to police.

Officers watched security footage from the Wal-Mart and said they noticed three men pacing back and forth near the checkout who appeared to be watching the woman as she entered her PIN during the transaction.

As the woman left the store, one suspect walked in front of her and dropped something, causing her to stop. Two other suspects then came up behind the woman and removed her debit card from her open purse, police say.

The victim only noticed her debit card was missing when she saw several unauthorized transactions on her account.

Halifax Regional Police said she lost a "substantial" amount of money.

Police have released pictures of the suspects, hoping the public may be able to help identify them.

"It is believed that they are working together and may not be from the area," Halifax Regional Police said in a statement.

Ways to protect yourself

The Canadian Bankers Association and Halifax Regional Police have some tips on how to protect yourself from debit card theft:

  • Use you hand or body as a shield when entering information.
  • Don't lend your card to anyone.
  • Never disclose your PIN to anyone, including bank employees, police, friends or family members.
  • Consider changing your PIN from time to time.
  • Avoid using common numbers such as your date of birth, address, social insurance number or phone number.
  • If you suspect your PIN has been compromised, notify your bank immediately.